February Offerings – Part XI: Something to Delight both Head and Heart

American Art – Part I of III: Pablos Villicana Lara

Artist Statement: “I received my Bachelor of Fine Arts from St. Mary’s College in Moraga, CA and Master of Fine Arts from College of the Arts in Oakland, CA. After creating with oils for several years as well as ceramics, pastel and textiles, discovering the quality of light and clarity of colors that could be achieved with watercolors changed the course of my artistic career and have exclusively worked with them for the past 22 years.
I was raised in both Mexican and American cultures, and most of my images reflect my love for Mexican/Native culture.”
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“You think that a wall as solid as the earth separates civilization from barbarism. I tell you the division is a thread, a sheet of glass. A touch here, a push there, and you bring back the reign of Saturn.” – John Buchan, Scottish novelist, historian, and politician, who died 11 February 1940.

Some quotes from the work of John Buchan:

“We can pay our debts to the past by putting the future in debt to ourselves.”
“The charm of fishing is that it is the pursuit of what is elusive but attainable, a perpetual series of occasions for hope.”
“The true definition of a snob is one who craves for what separates men rather than for what unites them.”
“The task of leadership is not to put greatness into humanity, but to elicit it, for the greatness is already there.”
“Civilization is a conspiracy. Modern life is the silent compact of comfortable folk to keep up pretences.”
“Every man at the bottom of his heart believes that he is a born detective.
“Peace is that state in which fear of any kind is unknown.”
“There may be Peace without Joy, and Joy without Peace, but the two combined make Happiness.”
“Without humility there can be no humanity.”
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Italian Art – Part I of II: Guglielmo Siega

Painter Guglielmo Siega was born in Milan in 1935.
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“I think, therefore I am.” – Rene Descartes, French philosopher, who stopped thinking on 11 February 1650.

Some quotes from the work of Rene Descartes:

“The reading of all good books is like conversation with the finest men of past centuries.”
“If you would be a real seeker after truth, it is necessary that at least once in your life you doubt, as far as possible, all things.”
“When it is not in our power to determine what is true, we ought to follow what is most probable.”
“Common sense is the most widely shared commodity in the world, for every man is convinced that he is well supplied with it.”
“Doubt is the origin of wisdom”
“It is not enough to have a good mind; the main thing is to use it well.”
“Conquer yourself rather than the world.”
“Except our own thoughts, there is nothing absolutely in our power.”
“I desire to live in peace and to continue the life I have begun under the motto ‘to live well you must live unseen.’”
“Masked, I advance.”
“To know what people really think, pay attention to what they do, rather than what they say.”
“It is only prudent never to place complete confidence in that by which we have even once been deceived.”
“For I found myself embarrassed with so many doubts and errors that it seemed to me that the effort to instruct myself had no effect other than the increasing discovery of my own ignorance.”
“To live without philosophizing is in truth the same as keeping the eyes closed without attempting to open them.”
“He who hid well, lived well.”
“At last I will devote myself sincerely and without reservation to the general demolition of my opinions.”
“But I cannot forget that, at other times I have been deceived in sleep by similar illusions; and, attentively considering those cases, I perceive so clearly that there exist no certain marks by which the state of waking can ever be distinguished from sleep, that I feel greatly astonished; and in amazement I almost persuade myself that I am now dreaming.”
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Italian Art – Part II of II: Luca Morelli

Painter Luca Morelli earned a degree from the Academy of Fine Arts of Rome.
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“I took a deep breath and listened to the old brag of my heart. I am, I am, I am.” – Sylvia Plath, American poet, novelist, and short story writer, who died 11 February 1963.

“Blackberrying”

Nobody in the lane, and nothing, nothing but blackberries,
Blackberries on either side, though on the right mainly,
A blackberry alley, going down in hooks, and a sea
Somewhere at the end of it, heaving. Blackberries
Big as the ball of my thumb, and dumb as eyes
Ebon in the hedges, fat
With blue-red juices. These they squander on my fingers.
I had not asked for such a blood sisterhood; they must love me.
They accommodate themselves to my milkbottle, flattening their sides.

Overhead go the choughs in black, cacophonous flocks—
Bits of burnt paper wheeling in a blown sky.
Theirs is the only voice, protesting, protesting.
I do not think the sea will appear at all.
The high, green meadows are glowing, as if lit from within.
I come to one bush of berries so ripe it is a bush of flies,
Hanging their bluegreen bellies and their wing panes in a Chinese screen.
The honey-feast of the berries has stunned them; they believe in heaven.
One more hook, and the berries and bushes end.

The only thing to come now is the sea.
From between two hills a sudden wind funnels at me,
Slapping its phantom laundry in my face.
These hills are too green and sweet to have tasted salt.
I follow the sheep path between them. A last hook brings me
To the hills’ northern face, and the face is orange rock
That looks out on nothing, nothing but a great space
Of white and pewter lights, and a din like silversmiths
Beating and beating at an intractable metal.
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Born 11 February 1800 – William Henry Fox Talbot, an Englishman who invented the calotype process, a precursor to the photographic processes of the 19th and 20th centuries. Talbot was also a noted photographer who made major contributions to the development of photography as an artistic medium.

Above – A photograph of William Henry Fox Talbot taken by John Moffat in1864.

Below – A latticed window at Lacock Abbey, August 1835 – a positive from what may be the oldest camera negative in existence; London Street, Reading, circa 1845

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From the American History Archives: Emma Goldman

11 February 1916 – Emma Goldman is arrested in New York City for lecturing on birth control. In the words of one historian, Goldman, an “American anarchist and feminist, compelling advocate of free speech, the eight-hour workday, and birth control, was arrested in New York City on February 11, 1916, just prior to giving another public lecture on family planning. She was charged with violating the Comstock Act, an 1873 statute banning transportation of ‘obscene’ matter through the mails or across state lines. At the time, federal courts interpreted the statute as prohibiting distribution of contraception information.”

Below – Emma Goldman speaking in New York’s Union Square, 1916.

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Here is one critic describing the artistry of Bulgarian painter Miroslav Jotov (born 1977): “Miroslav Jotov or Cirk as he is fondly known to his friends is an enterprising and versatile young artist whose work and scope embraces an amalgam of styles that highlight his unique individualism and view of the world. His style is unique – because of its Bulgarian accent and emotion, the brush strokes are well articulated and on occasions lustful, as if he is trying to seduce the viewer. This particular idiosyncrasy has won him accolades and admiration from his peers, critics and connoisseurs.”
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From the Music Archives: Glenn Miller

11 February 1941 – The first Gold Record in recording history is presented to Glenn Miller for “Chattanooga Choo Choo.”

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Born 11 February 1874 – Elsa Beskow, a Swedish author and illustrator of children’s books and fairy tales.

Above – A photograph of Elsa Beskow taken in 1901.
Below – Some of Beskow’s charming illustrations.
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“We are like tenant farmers chopping down the fence around our house for fuel when we should be using Nature’s inexhaustible sources of energy–sun, wind and tide. I’d put my money on the sun and solar energy. What a source of power! I hope we don’t have to wait until oil and coal run out before we tackle that.” – Thomas Alva Edison, American inventor and businessman, who was born 11 February 1847.

In the words of one historian, “(Edison) developed many devices that greatly influenced life around the world, including the phonograph, the motion picture camera, and a long-lasting, practical electric light bulb. Dubbed ‘The Wizard of Menlo Park.’ he was one of the first inventors to apply the principles of mass production and large-scale teamwork to the process of invention, and because of that, he is often credited with the creation of the first industrial research laboratory.”

Some quotes from the work of Thomas Alva Edison:

“To do much clear thinking a person must arrange for regular periods of solitude when they can concentrate and indulge the imagination without distraction.”
“Non-violence leads to the highest ethics, which is the goal of all evolution. Until we stop harming all other living beings, we are still savages.”
There are no rules here — we’re trying to accomplish something.”
“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”
“Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.”
“Five percent of the people think; ten percent of the people think they think; and the other eighty-five percent would rather die than think.”
“We often miss opportunity because it’s dressed in overalls and looks like work”
“Genius is 1 percent inspiration and 99 percent perspiration.”
“If we all did the things we are capable of, we would astound ourselves.”
“The three great essentials to achieve anything worthwhile are, first, hard work; second, stick-to-itiveness; third, common sense.”
“When you have exhausted all possibilities, remember this – you haven’t.”
“Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is to try just one more time.”
“Vision without execution is hallucination.”
“Negative results are just what I want. They’re just as valuable to me as positive results. I can never find the thing that does the job best until I find the ones that don’t.”
“What you are will show in what you do.”
“Just because something doesn’t do what you planned it to do doesn’t mean it’s useless.”
“The doctor of the future will give no medication, but will interest his patients in the care of the human frame, diet and in the cause and prevention of disease.”
“I never did a day’s work in my life. It was all fun.”
“Failure is really a matter of conceit. People don’t work hard because, in their conceit, they imagine they’ll succeed without ever making an effort. Most people believe that they’ll wake up some day and find themselves rich. Actually, they’ve got it half right, because eventually they do wake up.”
“We have but two ears and one mouth so that we may listen twice as much as we speak”
“The most necessary task of civilization is to teach people how to think. It should be the primary purpose of our public schools. The mind of a child is naturally active, it develops through exercise. Give a child plenty of exercise, for body and brain. The trouble with our way of educating is that it does not give elasticity to the mind. It casts the brain into a mold. It insists that the child must accept. It does not encourage original thought or reasoning, and it lays more stress on memory than observation.”
“There is always a better way.”
“Discontent is the first necessity of progress.”
“Your worth consists in what you are and not in what you have.”

Below – Edison’s Menlo Park Laboratory.
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American Art – Part II of III: Hope Gangloff

Here is what one critic says about the artistry of painter Hope Gangloff: “Hope Gangloff is known for creating vibrant and truthful portraits of her friends as a way to share her view of modern American life. By capturing this generation of young adults in her illustrations and paintings, she documents this era’s struggle during these tumultuous economic times.”
Here are the comments of another critic: “Her paintings and drawings make us feel her and her subjects and feel for them as well; they make us feel for ourselves and the period to which we belong. In the midst of the struggles of our current everyday lives, Hope finds both beauty and passion.”
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A Poem for Today

“Styx,”
By Robert Duncan

And a tenth part of Okeanos is given to dark night
a tithe of the pure water under earth
so that the clear fountains pour from rock face,
tears stream from the caverns and clefts,
down-running, carving woundrous ways in basalt resistance,
cutting deep as they go into layers of time-layerd
Gaia where She sleeps—

the cold water, the black rushing gleam, the
moving down-rush, wash, gush out over
bed-rock, toiling the boulders in flood,
purling in deeps, broad flashing in falls—

And a tenth part of bright clear Okeanos
his circulations— mists, rains, sheets, sheathes—
lies in poisonous depths, the black water.

Styx this carver of caverns beneath us is.
Styx this black water, this down-pouring.

The well is deep. From its stillness
the words our voices speak echo.
Resonance follows resonance.
Waves of this sounding come up to us.

We draw the black water, pure and cold.
The light of day is not as bright
as this crystal flowing.

Three thousand years we have recited its virtue
out of Hesiod.
Is it twenty-five thousand
since the ice withdrew from the lands and we
came forth from the realm of caverns where
the river beneath the earth we knew
we go back to.
Styx pouring down in the spring from its glacial remove,
from the black ice.

Fifty million years—from the beginning of what we are—
we knew the depth of this well to be.

Fifty million years deep —but our knowing deepens
—time deepens—
this still water

we thirst for in dreams we dread.

Below – Joachim Patinir: “Landscape with Charon Crossing the Styx” (circa 1515-1524).

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American Art – Part III of III: Rose Frantzen

Here is how one critic describes the artistry of painter Rose Frantzen: “Over time, Rose’s paintings have taken on an allegorical quality in which an abstract or surreal setting presents the subject as an archetypal character seen on his or her own internal stage. For these multi-dimensional works, she incorporates diverse stylistic elements along with gilding, stained glass, and mosaic.”

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